Friday, September 23, 2016

The Blue Line

There's a painted blue line that meanders through Akron. Every time I see it, it makes my heart race. This permanent decoration marks the course for the Akron Marathon, with a diversion for us half marathoners.

It's exciting, chasing that line around the city with almost 15,000 other runners. It feels like a high-speed party. Spectators line the streets with signs, cowbells, and encouragement. Live bands dot the course. The pace car lists everyone's name on it, like we're something special. It seems like all my friends are here.

And let's not forget the after-parties. There's  the official one, in the infield of Canal Park stadium as you cross the finish line. Another live band, medals, and awful beer. And the unofficial party, now in it's 4th year: a gathering of friends at a local bar (whichever one has the foresight to open by 10 AM), along the final mile of the course so we can drink the good stuff while we cheer in the longer-distance runners.

The blue line has led me to this very cool place in my athletic journey, where I've learned to love running (yes, I used to hate it).

Some Akron residents complain that the blue line is pollution, and should be removed between races. I say that the blue line is a sign, a taunt, a promise to challenge all takers, an invitation to try. The blue line tempts you to come along for the adventure, and then stays with you the whole way. It's a steadfast, unwavering running partner. And somewhere along the way, it might lead you to an annual autumn tradition.

Even the donuts are getting into the act!